A curse on your pages: Facebook madness from Nestle and Beneful

Beneful, a Nestle subsidary which manufactures dog food, is in trouble:


If you’re making dog food, and people start saying that your product is killing their dogs then that’s about as bad as it gets.

You may remember that Nestle provided social media consultants with one of the best, and most public examples about how to mis-manage a Facebook page with the palm oil debacle – here’s one of many blog posts which covered this. One of the key problems with this was censorship, and the deletion of posts.

How to avoid treading this road again? Address the situation head on, speak to the customers, try and gauge the scale of the problem maybe? Nope. Instead, in the face of a growing storm Beneful posts things like the following:




While, at the same time, their Facebook page is starting to fill up with things like:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.59.28 PM

Which gets a response something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 9.00.52 PM

It seems like Beneful are going down the same road which Nestle trod a few years ago – threaten your page fans with deletion and remain anonymous as possible; further, don’t address the issue directly.

And here’s why this is, generally, a bad move:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.58.05 PM

Cultivating a following of ‘influencers’ works both ways – have a good product, be respectful and people will love you for it. Start disrespecting your followers, particularly by censoring posts, and you’ve not only set your Facebook page on fire, but are merrily throwing petrol onto the flames.

And here’s the impact on existing customers:

Screen Shot 2013-02-03 at 8.52.19 PM

It’s easy to criticise, but here some things I would do in this situation:

– Stop being so goddamn anonymous; use your first name when you moderate or comment; try and give people a name to which they can talk to. Anonymity makes it much easier to be offensive, and get treated the same.

– Use Facebook to acknowledge the current situation; for every hater, there’s a bunch of people who, for the time being, think your brand’s okay. Directly acknowledging the problem, sharing the facts and describing the action you are taking is the mature thing to do. Posts about skyping dogs, in the face of news articles about less than healthy hounds make it look like you’re ducking the issue. Regardless of whether the product is fine, or not, you need to be proactive with the facts – even if it is bad news. Who else can help?- can the FDA support your claims, for example, that everything is okay?

Nestle’s Digital Acceleration Team became a bit of a big deal a while ago – so why does this feel like familiar territory for Nestle?

Update: Beneful are clearly using copy and paste – they seem to spend more time informing people they are removing their posts that actually doing anything meaningful. Community management, this is not.

Thanks to the awesome Corporate Bollocks Facebook page for tipping me off about Beneful.



Swedish Kommuns and Facebook: Another dirty review

Back in February I published a post which gave a quick, and rather dirty, review of Swedish kommuns and their use of Facebook. I like dirty, so here’s a follow up which looks at the same pages, almost a year later, in December 2012. Before we go any further:

What’s wrong with the data:
– Not every page is included (Nor have I looked at multiple pages from the same Kommun), there’s around 90 Kommun pages included here
– Some kommuns have only opened their walls for posts in the last few months (but well done you!)
– I can miscount stuff
– Facebook’s supposed chronological presentation of posts can sometimes be a little odd
– Page owners can have removed posts

And what’s wrong with the method:
– I don’t include comments on posts from the page
– I don’t control for posts from the same person (there’s more than one page which has a lot of ‘engagement’ from one or two special individuals)
– I have not looked at how quickly questions, comments etc are responded to
– I’ve not even attempted to second guess the stratgy behind the page (is it to drive traffic to a website, or encourage people to comment; for example?)
I have instead looked at the number of likes (yes, yes I know – not a sharp metric), the average monthly growth of likes and the number of posts by page friends.

Here’s a bubble chart showing number of likes on December 19th 2012:

Facebook likes - Swedish Kommuns

Clicking on the image will take you to the clickable chart.

Some clear winners, on the basis of likes. I’ve set up Facebook pages myself (and currently manage one for a client) and likes have never been the best metric. But, but, but – when you’re a kommun you know, roughly, how big your target group is – the number of citizens in your kommun. If your likes are a miniscule percentage of that number, then maybe you’re not really communicating optimally via Facebook.

Here’s a bubble chart of kommuns showing the average monthly growth, of likes, in 2012:

Average monthly growth - Kommun Facebook pages

Click on the image to visit the clickable chart.

Averages are dangerous things, but these data give an idea of what the best, and worst, growth looks like. These data give you no idea whether all the growth is restricted to a few months, or is spread throughout the year. Update: Basically, what I’m saying here is that some pages, indeed, a whole bunch of them; have simply not grown much at all. Others, like Karlstad are gaining likes at an impressive rate. GIven that many kommuns said in a recent survey that they lacked resources to adequately manage social media, this is not altogether surprising.

Bubble chart showing the number of posts left by page friends in 2012:

Facebook page posts - Swedish Kommuns

Bonus – correlation between posts and likes…make of this what you will:

FB likes vs posts

I’ve removed Karlstad’s page as including it sends all the other pages scurrying into the bottom left hand corner while it sits high up in the top right – no question for them that more likes is associated with more posts. There are outliers where lower numbers of likes are associated with still high numbers of posts but, generally, on the basis of these data you could roughly predict the number of posts by looking at the number of likes. Remember, as well, that these data are skewed by pages which may have only opened their walls in the last few months as well as pages which have received lots of attention from one or two people.

What can you do with this data?
No deep insights, I’m afraid, as I’ve got no idea what your particular kommun strategy with Facebook is. However, as most kommuns are using social media to have a dialogue with their citizens (Slide 7, Sveriges Kommun & Landsting) then presumably a low level of posts from page friends is an indication this target is not being met (though you may rock with comments on your posts – I didn’t look at that). Check out what the rock stars from this list are doing and remember, developing a social media presence takes time, patience and more than a little enthusiasm.

You can find my list of data here – if you notice any errors, sorry, entirely my fault and if I can find the time I’ll make this less dirty and more shiny. Here’s the raw data from the last time I did this.

The best Facebook analytics report (that you’re probably not using…)

Let’s take a step back, for a minute, from the usual slightly spitty excited talk about measuring social media by ‘engagement’, ‘reach’ or ‘virality’. All good stuff, to be sure, but sometimes – as a website owner, you just want to know how many visits are coming to your site from the Facebook page you lovingly maintain. It’s your bread and butter metric – it makes sense, and you know where you are with it. Chances are, most of your conversions take place on your website, that’s a good enough reason to want insight into your traffic sources.

Facebook domain insights is a great tool – among the reports it gives you are insights into visits to your website, from any link out there on Facebook. Here’s an example from a website, showing visits coming its way from Facebook:

Graph showing links clicked on from Facebook, back to a website

The number of clicks sent to a website, from links appearing in the news feed, page or profile walls. (Click for a larger view)

If you’re running a web analytics tool, you’ll can also get a similar report from your referring sites report – but what you get from insights, which you don’t get from your own website, is a report showing how many times links about your site were shared, regardless of whether they were clicked or not:

Daily shares from a Facebook page

The number of times people included a link to the website in a status message or wall post (Click for a larger view)

Ok – so where’s the insight? What’s the action I could take?
The first time I looked at the graphs above, my immediate question was ‘what’s responsible for the spikes?’. Finding out that answer will give me insights, which I can use to adjust my content strategy. Insights for domains has a ton of other useful reports, for example, it will show the success of any ‘like’ or ‘send’ buttons you have on your website.

The next question is, are the trends in the data above suggesting that the strategy that I have for Facebook is working, or not? In this instance, I can say that the prioritized purpose of my employer’s activities on Facebook is not to acquire traffic to the website  but to provide a platform for conversation with students (though, obviously, it’s nice when content is shared). However, as we increase publication of content on Facebook – and start using it to reach a larger audience we’ll definitely be using these reports to see what impact it’s having – we’ll be looking for an upwards trend. Whether this traffic does anything valuable to us, or for them, on our website is another question….

Talk to your webmaster, give them buns and get the meta tag from Facebook added to your website – enjoy.

Killer Facebook Data (That you can’t get from insights…or anywhere else for that matter)

Here’s some killer statistics from the Facebook page which I curate which fits both the ‘shock and awe’ and ‘frickin’ useful’ categories:

Between August 2011 and January 2012 friends of the page left 348 posts.
60% of these were related to making an application, or a question about our degrees
– 30% of them were practical questions about studying at Malmö
– 10% were links to events, jobs or other content

Simple take home? 90% of the posts we received in that 6 month period were about applying, splendid!

These data tell me that our page is totally supporting the current goals we have for Facebook – our strategy is to specifically focus on using Facebook for customer service and encourage prospective students to contact us via the wall.

How did we get these data? The hard way – my awesome colleague @idarosqvist went through our page with a pen and paper categorising the posts we had received. Definitely not the world’s most glamorous task but it results in some simple, easy to understand numbers which gives both insight (we’re on target with our strategy) and a set of data which allays the fears of those who worry that our page’s wall is full of random nonsense.

If you’ve got a billion friends, and a wall to match, then this probably is not for you; but if you’ve got a ‘regular’ page then taking a foray into your wall, armed with pen and paper, may give you some great insights and some awesome data to report.

(We didn’t look at comments, that would have taken too much time. The sentiment of the posts was largely positive or neutral, as tends to be the case with comments as well).

Facebook Timeline Arrives For Pages

Timeline has arrived for pages, and can now be enabled immediately (or automatically comes into effect on the 30th March). There’s already a few Swedish university pages, who are early adopters including  Umeå Universitet, Umeå University and Högskolan Väst. Here’s a few of my thoughts.

Look and Feel.
The new pages just look far better, the presence of the larger picture makes for a better visual impact and creates more opportunities for associating the page with campaign imagery used elsewhere.

Umeå university's Swedish Facebook page with timeline activated.

This is the part which worries me. All the pages I’ve looked at, which have timeline activated, now show comments in a separate box called ‘Recent posts by others’ with a truncated  snippet. If you’re using the page as a service platform, as my employer does, then there could be a risk that the first time visitor does not get to see that posts are answered quickly and with good answers. Timeline places a greater emphasis on posts from the page owners which may not be the main priority of all pages – this has implications for your content and posting strategy on Facebook. Tabs also, are not as obvious as they were previously.

Posts by page friends receive less priority in the new Facebook timeline layout (click for a bigger image)

Landing pages are now a thing of the past but you can get more data from a page’s insights tab, as a page friend. The completely awesome allfacebook blog is an extremely useful source of information about this, but it’s also worth checking out Facebook’s own guidelines for Timeline (which includes what you can and cannot do with the picture).

Swedish Kommuns and Facebook – a quick and dirty review

The other day I was struck by the thought ’I wonder how Swedish Kommun Facebook pages compare’ – so I took a look, and the results are presented here ( a ‘kommun’ is the Swedish equivalent of a British ‘county’ – an administrative region). Before we get stuck in, a few comments on the data:

First – there’s a ton of data missing; I certainly will have missed pages, nor have I spent time looking at how many Facebook pages a kommun might have. Nor have I made any kind of assessment of their overall communication strategy (they may stink at Facebook but throw great parties). I tried to check but it may well be that the pages I understood to be representing the Kommun are entirely ‘unofficial’ and actually administrated by small dogs.

Second – I’ve only looked at number of friends (not a particularly sharp metric) and number of posts left by page friends (a slightly better metric, but I only looked at February). I’ve not looked at comments left on posts (life is too short).

Third –  I’ve not looked at the age of the pages, so the friends metric is pretty useless for figuring out growth rate.

Kommun Facebook Pages – List
Here’s all the data in a spread-sheet. Hat tip to Obiz24 for publishing their survey of Swedish kommuns, which got me off to a good start.

Number of Friends – bubble chart

Facebook Page Friends - Swedish Kommuns

Click on this to get a bubble representation of the number of Facebook friends these Kommun pages had in Feb 2012.

Karlstad Kommun’s Facebook page stands head and shoulders above the others with just over 12282 friends, way more than any of the others I looked at; most struggle to get more than 1000 friends.  No surprise, they also had the most posts left by page friends.

According to Wikipedia, there are 290 Swedish Kommuns, with a massively varying population in each. If one assumes that most of Karlstad’s Facebook page friends actually live in the kommun then they have around 14% of their citizens as friends – definitely a significant communication channel. Not everybody enjoys such success – Eskilstuna, with the second most Friends, theoretically only has 2% of their citizens as Friends.

Number of Posts – bubble chart

Facebook Posts - Swedish Kommuns

Click to see number of posts left on the Kommun Facebook pages, during February.

12 of the Kommuns I looked at have their walls well and truly shut, with no posts allowed. Another 21 Kommun pages failed to get any posts from their friends in February (remember, I’ve not looked at any other months or comments left on posts). Generally, the amount of posts is quite low. Several of the Kommuns have a few ‘activists’ who post several times.

Lots of Numbers – So What?

How do you use this? First, given the large amount of energy often expended on discussing how social media is used in the public sector it’s a provoking reflection that – with regards to the Facebook pages I looked at here – the direct audience (i.e. the total number of friends) seems to be quite low. Second, with a few exceptions the level of engagement (‘shudder’ – what does that word really mean?) is also low – page friends do not seem to post or comment that much.  If you’re investing in your Facebook page then you could maybe use these data as a benchmarking tool, and spot those kommuns which seem to be having success (though it all comes back to your strategy and goal).

Is your page missing? What would make this analysis more useful? Have I made a colossal #fail?  – let me know in the comments box below!

Swedish University Facebook Pages Review – Posts in January 2012.

Here’s the data for January for the Facebook activity of Swedish universities, ranked by the number of posts left on their walls. December was relatively quiet in comparison to January; some pages received more than double the number of comments in January, compared to December.  (December’s data will be presented in a review of the previous 12 months which I’ll prepare next month.) International pages are the most active, which is no surprise, given that this is the main application period. 5 university pages still do not allow posts to be left.

In January, the pages with the most posts were Malmö (112 posts) and Uppsala’s (104 posts) English Facebook pages. Uppsala experienced considerable gains from last month, with an increase in 30% in the number of posts. Lund University’s page is ranked 3rd, with 67 posts.

Malmö University


Uppsala University


Lund University


Linne Universitet


Uppsala universitet


Linköping Universitet


Lunds Universitet


Högskolan i Borås


Umeå universitet


Umeå University


Högskolan i skövde




Malmö Högskola




Jönköping University


Karlstads Universitet




Göteborg Universitet


Högskolan i Halmstad


Mälardalans Högskola


Chalmers University of technology


Högskolan Dalarna


BTH officiell


University of Borås


Linnaeus University, Sweden


Högskolan Kristianstad


Mid Sweden Uni


Karlstad University


Högskolan i Jönköping


Högskolan Väst


Ranking of Swedish University Facebook pages, by posts left by page friends during January 2012 (+/-5)

What’s the Value of this?
Well, that kinda of depends on you. If the aim of your Facebook activities is to build a relationship between yourself and prospective students then you’ll probably want to see lots of posts on your wall. If, on the other hand, you are more interested in profiling your university online then you may be more  interested in comments and likes – though posts will still be important – in getting a more viral effect for your content. So, only a few comments may not necessarily mean bad things (and you may well be being awesome on other channels) but it could equally be a sign that, currently, you have not given any compelling reason why people should connect with you on your wall. In a subsequent post I’ll be showing a simple way of evaluating a page, and presenting the results, to get a handle on the type of posts being left.